14th Feb 2013

A Big Switch at Bord Gáis

After 5 years as CEO, the man behind the hugely successful Big Switch campaign stepped down in December 2012. During his time at Bord Gáis Eireann John Mullins increased the value of the firm’s assets from €3.2bn when he started, to €4.5bn when he left. Mullins has stated that is was always his intention to stay five years, no longer, and now that the company is changing focus – with the establishment of Irish Water – it is the opportune time for him to make a natural break.

Mullins’ shoes will not be easy to fill. For now the acting CEO is John Barry, but in June this year Michael McNicholas will take over. McNicholas comes to Bord Gáis from NTR, where he has been CEO since 2011. Prior to this the Mayo native was CEO of the international investment arm of ESB – ESB International. So he will join the company with over 25 years experience in the Irish and international energy industry.

In his new role McNicholas will be tasked with guiding the company through this new phase of development. “I am committed to ensuring that Bord Gáis and Irish Water deliver a first-class service to our customers and meet the needs of our community and our shareholders”.

In order to lead Bord Gáis effectively through this time of transition McNicholas will need set himself up for a successful first 100 days – building a strong and healthy team is vital to this. Before he takes on the role McNicholas should be preparing, and considering a number of issues, such as:

1. Getting his team ready for his arrival

If he and his team are prepared before his arrival, then McNicholas can get off to a fast and focused start.

2. Arranging a swift leadership handover

There cannot be two leaders of a team – so the handover should happen quickly and efficiently.

3. Understanding the strategic context

McNicholas cannot lead the team in a vacuum. Understanding the broader strategic context and timeline will allow him to lead his team while keeping connected to the bigger picture.

4. Knowing what the team mission is

After establishing the strategic context McNicholas needs to be able to have a clear line of sight between what he is being asked to do and what Bord Gáis is aiming to achieve, and by when.

Effective team leadership is one of the foundations for a successful first 100 days. If McNicholas focuses on the above, he will be in line for a running start as CEO of Bord Gáis Eireann.

Hilda Goold

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